17 February, 2007

Gulf News: evolution theory will be removed from curriculum

According to Abdul Qader Eisa, Senior Supervisor of Biology at the Curriculum Development Centre in the Ministry of Education, the evolution theory is included in the curriculum for Grade 12 pupils in public schools but will be removed for the next academic year.
Public schools have only three classes per week in biology and the new curriculum cover demands the need to include a wide array of new "crucial topics such as the human systems, and recent advances in DNA technologies."
Private schools are permitted to address the subject as a scientific theory only without rejecting creationism.
Ironically, transmission of characteristics through genetics (r.e. DNA) is the mechanism that filled in a blank in Darwin's theory - it was unknown at his time.

As a practical matter it is a good thing that genetics will still be taught given its connection to high level of birth defects due to the high rate of "consanguineous marriages among UAE nationals" (Centre for Arab Genomic Studies, Dubai, Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Science). Surely blood tests before marriage will continue to be required.


A Blessing in Tragedy said...

In April 2002, the Journal of Genetic Counseling released a report authored by a team of scientists led by Robin L. Bennett, a genetic counselor at the University of Washington and the president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, which showed that the potential risk of birth defects in a child born of first cousins was not particularly higher than the risk associated with a non-cousin couple. The report estimated the increased risk for first cousins is only between 1.7 to 2.8 percent, or about the same as any woman over 40 years of age. To put it another way, first-cousin marriages entail roughly the same increased risk of abnormality that a woman undertakes when she gives birth at 41 rather than at 30. Banning cousin marriages makes about as much sense, critics argue, as trying to ban childbearing by older women.

John B. Chilton said...

a blessing in tragedy,

Perhaps what the study you cite does not consider is marriages of 1st cousins generation upon generation. In a population like that it would, I presume, be higher.

The study I cite says "The UAE has taken great strides in health care in the last two decades and because of improved pre-natal care, the infant mortality rate has decreased to 8.4 per 1,000 live births in the year 2000, a rate similar to that of developed countries. On the other hand, mortality due to genetic diseases has increased dramatically accounting for 75 per cent of neo-natal deaths, compared to only 30 per cent of neo-natal deaths a decade ago," Dr Abdel Razak said. He said that the rate of congenital abnormality at birth in the UAE is about 22 per 1,000 live births, which he added is a grossly underestimated figure since many congenital abnormalities are detected long after birth.

"The UAE has a high incidence of single gene defects which accounts for the high rate of autosomal recessive disorders. This is related to the high rate of consanguineous marriages, which is around 51 per cent of marriages between UAE nationals," Dr Abdel Razak said.

If it is 51% then you've got a lot of cases of children of 1st cousins marrying.

The bit about the proportion of neo-natal deaths due to birth defects going up is, I'm guessing, due to much improved neo natal care having a differential effect on the non birth defect neo natal group. And not to any change in the proportion of 1st cousins marrying.

I would hazard the guess that going into the future we will see fewer birth defects as the adoption of blood testing helps families avoid disastrous matches.

I did not of course advocate banning marriage between first cousins. But there is a hazard, and it is easily avoidable whereas it is not so easy to avoid childbirth late in life in this day and age. Or is it? I'd be interested in the opinions of others.

A Blessing in Tragedy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Sure, "A blessing...", 1.7% doesn't seem that much, nor does 2.8%, but have you seen what the normal rate of birth defects is? Only about 1%. Put another way, marrying your cousin increases your risk of having a birth-defected child by 70% to 180%.

Anonymous said...

Kansas meet UAE, UAE meet Kansas

Anonymous said...

Oooh! and my deleted comment wasnt even offensive in any way shape or form... I wonder what the criteria being used is.

Someone wasnt paying attention in statistics class. that increase of 0.x percent is just that. also, in case you hadnt been reading, it is (technically) more dangerous for a woman to have a child above the age of 40 that it is to have one with your cousin.

Kansas? hah. 23 states in the US have NO law against cousins marrying one another. DO NOT JUDGE ME ON MY OWN SOIL YOU PIECE OF SHIT WESTERN TURD.

Delete this one you ass holes.

John B. Chilton said...

The Kansas School Board has tussled with the notion of restricting the teaching of evolution, among other scientific theories.

See this, for example.

John B. Chilton said...

The comment by blessing in tragedy (alias anonymous) that was deleted contained language and personal attack. Neither is appropriate for this forum.

Anonymous said...


You'd be surprised by the number of people waiting for you to get off your own soil.

Expect a warm welcome when you travel sir.

Anonymous said...

Banning cousins marriege is an American invention anyway.

Anonymous said...

Instruction in genetics is certainly a step forward, however it appears that it may have been used as an excuse to remove biological evolution from the curriculum, possibly because some believe that it conflicts with their religious texts. This is rather unfortunate, considering how confusing the nature and diversity of life can be without knowledge of evolutionary principals and history. In fact, so much progress has been made in the field of biological evolution due in large part to genetics that it can barely be considered to be Darwin's theory anymore.

As for the issue of birth defects, ones caused by older or unhealthy mothers are generally physiological and cannot be passed down, and thus cannot compound in detriment, as opposed to defects caused by marriage of close relatives, which are genetic and inherited by children.

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